Nomenclature of Muslim Clergy

I’ve seen a variety of titles used to refer to Muslim clergy–muezzin, imam, mullah, and Ayatollah are the ones that I can think of now. What are the differences between these titles? Do they refer to ranks, on the order of priests, bishops, and cardinals? Or do they refer to similar positions, but derive from different languages? Are there other titles for Muslim clergy as well? Thanks for any information anyone can provide.

Nope Islam ain’t got a clergy. Teachers, prayer leaders and callers-to-prayers are most commonly amateurs from the community. Here they tend to be government employees of course.

Here’s a link that tries to tell religious journalists how to use the various titles - some seem to relate to rank or jurisdiction, others are cultural (Sunni vs Shiite vs Sufi).


Thanks for the responses; that link clears up a lot of my confusion.

And Paul, thanks for setting me straight about the lack of a clergy in Islam–I’d always just assumed that there was a professional, full-time clergy.

Well here, we got a state religion, so we have paid staff, but at your local mosque in the US, as like as not just one of the guys.